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If you’re a woman, don’t drink too much booze

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Drinking too much alcohol isn’t good for any of us, but it’s particularly bad for women.

Women who drink eight or more glasses of alcohol a week are much more likely than men to develop coronary heart disease.

Both men and women increase their risk of heart problems if they ‘binge drink’—heavy drinking in one or two sessions—but women face a higher risk even if they drink moderately, which is defined as drinking one or more glasses of alcohol every day.

The American College of Cardiology analysed data from 430,000 patients treated by the Kaiser Permanente Northern California integrated health group.   Those surveyed had an average age of 44, and didn’t have heart disease at the start of the trial.  Their alcohol consumption was tracked, and was classified from low intake (one to two drinks a week for both sexes), moderate (three to 14 drinks a week for men, and three to seven drinks for women) and high (15 or more drinks a week for men and eight or more drinks for women).

During the four years of the study, 3,108 people developed coronary heart disease, and the number of cases rose in line with higher alcohol consumption.  Overall, women in the high alcohol category were 45 percent more likely to develop heart disease compared to those in the low category.  Women binge drinkers were 68 percent more likely to suffer heart disease compared to female moderate drinkers.

The real surprise, said the researchers, was the extent of heart disease among relatively young people when it is a problem that has usually been seen as a disease of the elderly.

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Proceedings of the American College of Cardiology annual scientific session, March 28, 2024
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